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On Theater: Playhouse snares Felder for triple playbill

Hershey Felder, who’s captivating Laguna Playhouse audiences as the title (and only) character in “George Gershwin Alone,” is out to prove his Gershwin is only the tip of an iceberg chock full of musical geniuses.

Felder, who’d already been signed for a return visit to the playhouse as “Monsieur Chopin” at the end of February, also has a Beethoven show in his trilogy titled “Composer Sonata.”

And he’ll unveil that one at the playhouse from May 11 to 23.

The latest exercise, titled “Beethoven as I Knew Him,” was just announced by the playhouse this week. Like the current Gershwin and the upcoming Chopin, it’s a one-man tour-de-force production.

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Felder’s Beethoven project is a dramatization of a little-known true story as told in 1870 — 43 years after the composer’s death — by a person who spend a good part of the maestro’s last two years by his side. Felder, of course, assumes both characters.

“Beethoven as I Knew Him” will highlight some of the composer’s most famous works, including “Moonlight Sonata,” “Pathetique Sonata,” selections from his symphonies numbers five and nine and the “Gross Fugue,” as well as a movement of Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto.”

Felder describes his tribute to Beethoven as “a journey through time that will bring audiences closer to the genius of maestro Ludwig van Beethoven himself.”

At the moment, Felder is presenting an exceptional tribute to Gershwin, perhaps the greatest American composer of the 20th century, who packed a lifetime of work into his brief 38-year stint on Earth.

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Of his climactic presentation of the famed “Rhapsody in Blue,” this column observed last week, “Watching his flying fingers on the piano during this modern classic, which normally involves a full orchestra, is worth the admission price by itself.”

Following the Gershwin show, which plays through Feb. 21, Felder will morph into the body and musical style of Frederic Chopin, another brilliant composer whose life was just one year longer than Gershwin’s (1810–1849). That show opens Feb. 17 and plays through March 7.

Tickets to all three Felder productions may be obtained by contacting the Laguna Playhouse at (949) 497-2787 or at www.LagunaPlayhouse.com.


TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Coastline Pilot.


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